An embarrassing side effect of falling in love It is the inability to express your feelings credibly to a third party, no matter how eloquent you are, no matter how generous the audience is. How many times have you felt the growing desperation in a group of friends when someone else fell in love and madly tried to explain why? Why it? How many times did I go there myself? I’m looking hard for a favorable picture of him, girlfriends/relatives/random girls on the toilet emphasizing that he’s much prettier in real life, you know, and he loves poetry/Marxism/rock, but not in a bad way, I promise.
A story like this always falls on deaf ears because infatuation, so much more than love, is simply untranslatable. Untranslatability is a feeling of loneliness that is hard for us to accept. For example, even though we know better, against all the laws of a good story, we still tell our friends how much we liked we dreamed last night, no matter how glassy they look to us. Thus, even the writer risks that the feeling that left her with such a deep impression does not leave a deep impression on the reader.
in biography Signs of the Universe: A Report on an Obsession Amy Coopman describes an impossible one-sided infatuation with French-Canadian fixer A. She meets him while filming for the travel series Canada Heaven He becomes fascinated by some unusual similarities that you coincidentally have, and then ends up with him in a hotel room during a snowstorm. They both have housemates so it’s just a hint and a chaste hug, but Emy is sold out.
Her infatuation grows into a long-lasting pain that she tries to cure not with actions but with words, by calling A, by playing open cards in long conversations with her strong and reliable friend Johannes, by forming a complex friendship with her adorable little younger boyfriend. Charlotte, by diving into books on infatuation, eroticism, and women and men, scours the internet, researching her past to investigate past relationships. She does not touch him.
Copeman puts her infatuation into an intellectual tradition
She explains her desires with the deep earnestness and agonizingly slow meticulousness of a pathologist tasked with making a small sample of each cell individually and placing it under the lens. Patience for this exercise can only be mustered by someone who stoops over heels in love, which is quite obvious, yet impossible to fall in love with A, a man who hardly shows a glimpse of his personality, and who obviously does not feel the same way about her.
he doesn’t like you, That’s what you’d like to say to your girlfriend who spent hours at the bar trying to explain this issue, and why is it even bothering you? Who is this man exactly?
The fact that he remains invisible should not be a problem in and of itself. A is an unnamed character for a reason, so this date is like a self-examination anyway. Emy takes center stage and we have to understand admiration as something that happens inside of her and not towards him. She alone remains as elusive as “A,” not because of a lack of words, but because of a desire to put her crush into an intellectual tradition. The book is full of references to Bataille, Zweig, Dante, Doré, Levinas, Fibonacci, Barthes, De Beauvoir, Shakespeare, Coetzee, Abramović, Dworkin, Huizinga, Ovidius, Volf, Foster Wallace, Rothko, Scorsese, and anyone who might be able to hold on to the show. These references are not just a glimpse into the writer’s mind, but also a way to distance ourselves from the heart of the matter, the sensual, that infatuation itself.
It’s a distance with no poison and no sarcasm, no mockery, but then what? Just afraid of looking weak? This is a common tendency among intelligent women, and one which Koopman himself eventually mentions, to rebel against the stereotype of emotional, irrational, weeping, eager women by building a wall of intellectual thought around you. This way you can show that you are not in love like a teenage girl, but that you are smarter in love, like a writer. This yields interesting currents of thought, about the woman as an involuntary seduction or willing victim, about bestiality in the man, about monogamy as a lack of freedom or liberty, but it remains a theory, and even memories of her childhood are material to consider. Emy gets less transparent with each chapter instead of more, and in the end we don’t know her better than the unknown object of love.
Koopman yearns to be honest and impressionable, and that’s what she assures the reader of. It sings about those whom it considers the most vulnerable, contemporary representatives of love poetry: pop musicians, “who are spared the requirements of rationality, and who are allowed to plunge into eternal romance”, those who can truly surrender. We can’t all stand it, she knows it. So why then do we try to capture surrender, to put love into words? She writes: “I exist, I feel, I do, and I refuse to be silent about it!” Perhaps this is sufficient reason.